The reporter and director Alex Nott visit El Salvador as it experiences its worst gang violence in a decade. Many of the gangs' hitmen are children who kill and die with appalling frequency but accept it as part of normal life. They expose another disturbing trend: the torture and murder of young teenage girls - victims of a gang culture that regards them as sexual objects.
They accompany a police emergency response unit in the country's capital, San Salvador, to the scene of a shooting in the centre of the city, an area which is a gang stronghold. At the scene a man lies by the side of the road covered in blood.
The police officers tell the reporter that the emergency services are so overwhelmed with causalities that police cars often have to double up as ambulances. And hospitals are receiving dozens of gunshot victims every week.
The two main gangs were set up by El Salvadoran immigrants in the USA, but have spread throughout their homeland to the extent that there are now more than 10,000 warring gang members. Dealing with them has become the police's main job and the government has deployed 4,000 soldiers onto the streets.
There are 12 murders a day in El Salvador: one of the highest rates in the world. Most of those killed are young men, but more and more women and children are becoming victims. At the scene of another shooting, where the victim was a boy who ran errands for a gang, a police officer tells Navai that gangs are recruiting children as young as 10 years old.
The team talk to families who have been forced to flee their homes to protect their children from the gangs. Hundreds of boys have been forced into hiding because they didn't want to join the gangs. One of them tells the reporter that the gangs start pressurising boys as young as 12 to join up. He said he had been beaten so badly his arm was broken and then they started slipping notes under his door every day telling him that if he didn't join, he would be killed.
The Team track down a gang leader. 'Dreamer' is 29 and has worked his way up the ranks of one gang since joining at 15. He's been in prison for drug trafficking and murder. He claims that children as young as 12 are playing an active role in the gangs, and are even committing murder.
Entering another gang-controlled territory, the team meets a 17-year-old gang leader and two of his foot soldiers - 'Small', who is 14, and 'Doll', who is 16. 'Doll' tells the reporter that she gathers information on rivals and 'Small' kills them. 'Small' says that he first killed when he was 12.
The team is called to another crime scene, where the bodies of two women have been discovered five minutes beforehand. They've had their hands and legs tied and appear to have been tortured. A local coroner tells the team that in the last 10 years, murder of women has doubled. He claims that most of the girls are raped before they are murdered and that the killings are getting more brutal. Some victims are mutilated, with gang names carved into them, before being killed.
Despite the horror, families are too scared to go to the police because of what the gangs can do in revenge, such as killing other children. One mother, Gertrduys, shows photos of her daughter Raquel, who had been so badly beaten she could only be identified by her dental records. She tells the reporter that when there's a gang killing in the neighbourhood nobody goes to the police because everybody is too scared. She says she can't seek justice for her daughter because the gangs may come after her or her family and kill them.
While the police and army struggle to control gang warfare while respecting the law, it's clear to Unreported World that the levels of brutality involving young women and children show the gangs know no limits when it comes to maintaining their control.Watch now on 4oD
|Friday 11 June 2010||Channel 4|
|Friday 11 June 2010||7.30PM||Channel 4|